At 60 years old, I can legitimately say I have perspective. I can look back and connect the dots of my life and look ahead with anticipation of what God has in store for me. Instrumental in helping me gain perspective over the past 11 years is being involved in several small group communities like Convene. Left on my own, it is difficult to hold my life in perspective. My worldview becomes narrow and biased. Isolation breeds self-pity, negativity, and ultimately, hopelessness. It feeds my ego, my self-sufficiency, my need for control. It creates an inward spiral that draws me further into myself. In contrast, community helps keep me in perspective. It shows me that I’m not alone in my brokenness. It allows me to understand my trials and challenges relative to other good people’s struggles. It helps me examine my own lifestyle and character and forces me to challenge my own limiting beliefs. Community creates an outward spiral that draws others into my life.
Let me share three areas in which I have gained perspective.
Ecclesiastes 3 says, “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under heaven.” We all know the Scripture. A time to give birth, to die, to plant, to uproot the plant, to tear down, to build, to weep, to laugh, etc. In 60 years I’ve had a chance to experience most of those.
We talk a lot about “God’s plan” but we are often unwilling to let it play out. We fret, become anxious, think the worst. Have you ever heard it said that “God is the slowest person to be on time”? His timing and His ways are best and when we don’t allow it to play out, we are being disobedient to God’s will. When we try to circumvent the path He’s laid in front of us, we are disallowing God to work on us--to mold us and shape us. So at 60, I can say that I have gained patience. Patience is the fruit of perspective of time.
Romans 11:34: “For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to counsel him?” Elsewhere in Philippians it says that “we have the mind of Christ.”
The mind of Christ—think of that! A regular prayer of mine is to watch the story of life unfold with patience and vision: to stand back and watch God’s plan play out like a movie. But that only happens when I know and care about the people who surround me. To trust God’s plan is to understand our role in it.
Joshua 1:5, 9—“As I was with Moses, I will be with you: I will not leave you nor forsake you. …I command you: be strong and courageous! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.” I have adopted the rally cry of “Be strong and courageous.” That speaks loudly to me about continuing to carry out the work of God no matter how inadequate or undeserving I might feel.
So, the combination of patience for God’s timing, plus vision to see through God’s eyes, plus courage to act, knowing He is with me…those all produce perspective.
I have learned that the fruit of this formula of Patience, Vision and Courage is peace of mind and joy in my heart. Philippians 4:7 says, “The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
So now a question for you: Who in your life helps you keep perspective?